Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Church’

Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Ryan Church

January 13, 2010

Here is what I wrote about Church when he was released by the Atlanta Braves in December:

“When Church was traded to the Mets from the Washington Nationals along with Brian Schneider for Lastings Milledge before the 2008 season, I thought it was a good deal for the Mets. In his first 43 games, Church made it look like a great deal for the Metropolitans.

In those first 43 games, Church hit .315 with nine home runs and for the first time in Omar Minaya’s tenure with the Mets, it looked like he pulled off a steal of a trade.

Then the night of May 20 against ironically the Braves happened.

Church slid in short stop Yunel Escobar’s knee at second base and suffered a concussion. It was Church’s second concussion in less than three months.

The Mets of course in typical Mets fashion made things worse by inexplicably making Church fly to Denver in the high altitude right after the second concussion.

Church hasn’t been the same since.

I am guessing the Braves release Church and Church shouldn’t have a problem finding a job with another team. His lifetime .813 OPS versus right-handed pitching should make him an attractive option as a left-handed hitter off the bench/forth outfielder.”

Not only did Church find a job with another team, but he might have the opportunity to start in 2010.

Church is headed to Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Church to a one-year, $1.5 million contract today. Church can earn another $1.32 million in incentives if he reaches a certain amount of plate appearances in 2010.

While I have my doubts as to whether or not Church can ever regain his form prior to his concussions, he should be able to nail down a starting job in Pittsburgh. He should start for the Pirates in right field flanking Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge.

If Church can nail down the starting job, this will  allow the Pirates to play Garrett Jones at first base–at least against right-handing pitching. This move essentially ends the Pirates pursuit of Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock.

Who does Ankiel–and for that matter Scott Boras–think he is? He is a fringe starter in baseball and he is asking for a two or three year deal? He will be waiting for a long time if he thinks he is going to get that.

Church is a career .272 hitter with 51 home runs and a .345 OBP in six seasons with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, Mets and Braves.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Atlanta Braves Designate Ryan Church For Assignment

December 9, 2009

In order to make room on the 40-man roster for Rafael Soriano, the Atlanta Braves have designated OF Ryan Church for assignment. Church came over to Braves in the Jeff Francoeur trade in the summer of 2009 and hit .260 with two home runs in 44 games for Atlanta.

The Braves have 10 days to either trade him or release him.

Church hasn't been the same since his second concussion in 2008

Okay, so I talk about when I am right on my baseball opinions and now I will talk about when I am wrong. I was dead wrong on my thoughts of the Francoeur for Church trade.

I thought at the time it was a good trade for the Braves. I thought Church was mistreated in New York and he would find a new life in Atlanta.

As it just so happens, things were the other way around.

It was Francoeur who blossomed with a change of scenery and Church continued his downward spiral. I have come to the realization that Church will never be the same since he suffered that concussion in the spring of 2008.

When Church was traded to the Mets from the Washington Nationals along with Brian Schneider for Lastings Milledge before the 2008 season, I thought it was a good deal for the Mets. In his first 43 games, Church made it look like a great deal for the Metropolitans.

In those first 43 games, Church hit .315 with nine home runs and for the first time in Omar Minaya’s tenure with the Mets, it looked like he pulled off a steal of a trade.

Then the night of May 20 against ironically the Braves happened.

Church slid in short stop Yunel Escobar’s knee at second base and suffered a concussion. It was Church’s second concussion in less than three months.

The Mets of course in typical Mets fashion made things worse by inexplicably making Church fly to Denver in the high altitude right after the second concussion.

Church hasn’t been the same since.

I am guessing the Braves release Church and Church shouldn’t have a problem finding a job with another team. His lifetime .813 OPS versus right-handed pitching should make him an attractive option as a left-handed hitter off the bench/forth outfielder.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Philadelphia Phillies Add Brian Schneider

December 1, 2009

It’s a great time to be a backup player in the majors these days.

So far this offseason, we have seen Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel, and Alex Cora sign contracts. Now we can add another backup player to the list of players who have signed a contract.

According to Todd Zolecki, the Philadelphia Phillies have signed Brian Schneider to a two-year, $2.75 contract to be their backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz. Schneider spent the last two years with the New York Mets.

Schneider is headed to Philadelphia

When the Mets traded Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for Schneider and Ryan Church before the 2007 season, I thought it was a good trade for the Mets.

Milledge was the Mets top young player at the time, but he is a clown and I have seen hundreds of Milledge types in my day. The Mets were getting back two professional ball players and with Schneider, they were getting a serviceable major league catcher.

The Mets got what they expected out of Schneider in 2008. Schneider hit .257 with nine home runs and threw out 33 percent of the runners trying to steal against him.

However, in 2009 like most of the Mets players, Schneider suffered through an injury plagued season. Schneider missed 41 games with a lower back injury and his average plummeted to .218 and his OPS dipped to .627.

I like this signing by the Phillies. Would I have given him a two-year deal? It’s debatable.

Schneider is four years younger than Paul Bako and three years younger than Chris Coste (Coste recently signed with the Mets), who were the Phillies’ backup catchers last season. Schneider’s .345 caught stealing percentage in 2009 is also better than both of them.

Of course knowing the Mets luck with players once they leave Flushing, Schneider will hit .280 with the Phillies and throw out 50 percent of the baserunners trying to run against him.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Assessing The Ryan Church For Jeff Francoeur Trade…

July 11, 2009

In a rare occurrence in baseball, two division rivals got together and made a trade. The New York Mets traded OF Ryan Church to the Atlanta Braves for OF Jeff Francoeur. At first glance, this seems like a classic “change of scenery” trade.

The Braves get a guy in Church, who never seemed to fit in with the Mets and it seemed like the Mets were never too fond of him. The way the Mets handled Church’s injuries last year was a joke and Jerry Manuel rather would have started anyone in the OF over Church.

That being said, the Braves are getting a guy who I think can hit .275 with 15-20 HR’s and 70-80 RBI. The Braves need as much offense as they can get, and at this point I think Church is a better offensive player than Jeff Francoeur.

The Mets get a guy in Francouer, who really needed to get out of Atlanta. This had to be a hard trade for Braves GM Frank Wren to make. Francoeur was born in Atlanta, drafted by the Braves, and was supposed to be the new face of the franchise.

Francoeur needed a change of scenery

Francoeur needed a change of scenery

Francouer was well on his way to becoming that franchise player when he hit a combined .276 with 48 HR’s and 208 RBI in 2007 and 2008. However, in 2008 things changed for Francoeur. He hit only .239 with 11 HR, 71 RBI, and a pathetic .294 OBP.

The Mets apparently made this trade for three reasons:

  1. The Mets are hoping that Francouer will turn things around and he just needed a change of scenery. At the age of 25, there is still plenty of time for Francoeur to figure things out.
  2. In the very spacious Citi Field, the Mets needed to start building their team around defense. Mets GM Omar Minaya says of Francoeur “some consider to be the best defensive right-fielder in baseball, and a guy who has a very good arm.”
  3. Francoeur has a clean bill of health. Here is a classic comment from Minaya – “One thing we like about Francoeur is the amount of games he plays.”

A couple of things in regards to Minaya’s comments. I have never heard a GM say he traded for a guy because of the amount of games he plays. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I am guessing 90 percent of the regular OF’s in the majors play in a good amount of games.

Minaya also mentioned something about Francoeur’s defense. Here is something to chew on – Church has actually been a better defensive player than Francoeur the last two years. They both have around a .993 Fielding Percentage the last two years, but Church’s UZR has been 3.9 and 2.8, while Francoeur’s has been -4.7 and 0.6.

Advantage – Church.

At the end of the day, in my opinion, the Braves got better of this deal. The Mets never, ever gave Church a chance and despite being younger, I am not sure if Francoeur can turn it around under a microscope in New York.